THE ROLE OF POLICY MAKERS IN ACCELERATING THE TRANSITION TO THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
On 10th November 2021, in the frame of Keep Georgia Tidy Project, Georgian Society of Nature Explorers “Orchis” organized the fifth Conference on Circular Economy in Rooms Hotel Tbilisi to discuss the role of policy makers in accelerating the transition to the circular economy. The participants of the conference were the representatives of the executive government and the Parliament of Georgia, specifically: the chairs and members of the Environment & Natural Resources Protection, Sector Economy & Economic Policy and Agricultural Committees of Georgian Parliament as well as the representatives of the Government of Georgia (the senior officers of the Ministries of the Environment Protection & Agriculture, Finance, Economy & Sustainable Development, and Regional Development & Infrastructure), the Embassy of Sweden/ Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the diplomatic corps, the international financial institutions, the National Academy of Science of Georgia, business sector, media, etc.
The conference was opened by the Deputy Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia Acad. Solomon Pavliashvili. Welcoming speeches were made by: the Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Vice Premier Mr. Levan Davitashvili; the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden to Georgia H.E. Mr. Ulrik Tidestrom; the Deputy Minister of Finance of Georgia Mr. Mikheil Dundua; the Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Mrs. Mzia Giorgobiani; the Chair of Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee of the Parliament of Georgia Mr. Davit Songhulashvli; the Chair of Environment Protection and Natural Resources Committee of the Parliament of Georgia Mrs. Maia Bitadze; the President of the National Academy of Science of Georgia Acad. Giorgi Kvesitadze, and the Chair of Georgian Society of Nature Explorers “Orchis” Dr. Mariam Kimeridze.
The keynote speaker of the conference was Dr. Dariusz Edward Prasek, an International Expert in environmental, social and governance areas and circular economy, the member of the United Nations Advisory Board on Circular Economy, former Director of Operations in Environmental and Sustainability Department of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Independent Expert on Development Financing at IDB Invest, who informed attendants about main aspects of the transition to the circular economy, how this system could be efficiently implemented and what is the specific role of the policy makers in this process.
Another speaker was Mr. Timo Makela, who has 40-year experience in environmental, finance and sustainable development areas. He was employed by the Government of Finland, EBRD, European Commission, and Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra in different periods. Mr. Mäkelä also served as an EU ambassador to Finland for 4 years. He raised awareness of the participants about the EU Green Deal, and Finnish approach and experience in accelerating the transition to the circular economy.
The purpose of the conference was informing the Parliament and Government of Georgia about the circular economy, because policy makers are one of the enablers of the shift to the circularity, and the existing policy frameworks are insufficient to ensure a meaningful acceleration for the transition to the circular economy.
Various expert groups have identified several key recommendations for financial and non-financial policy makers, project promoters and public authorities to achieve concerted actions in the acceleration of the circularity measures. One of the main themes in these recommendations is the role of public authorities and the need to increase their capacities, because public authorities, on all levels, can provide incentives to promote circular economy models via, for example, public procurement, subsidies, taxation and funding.
Together with other aspects of the circular economy, the conference made particular accent on such recommendations that can accelerate the adoption of circularity principles and envisage improvement of conditions for financing circular economy projects, removing of barriers and identification of main areas where incentives need to be provided. Besides that, key aspects of the EU Green Deal, and Finnish approach and experience in accelerating the transition to the circular economy were comprehensively discussed during the meeting.
After four successful conferences organized in 2019-2021 for policy makers, regional and municipal authorities, business community and financial sector, the fifth Conference on Circular Economy targeted the Parliament and Government of Georgia, which are key enablers of the transition process.
The presentations made on the conference sparkled a great interest among the participants. The representatives of the Government and the Parliament of Georgia expressed their readiness to engage governmental authorities at all levels, business and financial sectors, innovators, academia, investors and consumers in this process in order to promote systemic changes that can accelerate the transition to the circular economy. In addition, the Government and Parliament of Georgia proposed ways for further deeper cooperation with Georgian Society of Nature Explorers “Orchis” in area of the circular economy program implementation.
The fifth Conference on Circular Economy was organized commonly by Georgian Society of Nature Explorers “Orchis” and the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, in the frames of the Circular Economy Programme funded by the Government of Sweden and implemented by GSNE “Orchis” with the support of Georgian Ministries of Environment Protection & Agriculture, Finance, Regional Development & Infrastructure, Economy & Sustainable Development, and Education & Science.